The music industry has turned upside down in the last fifteen years. For a very long time, music on the radio, DJ’s and vinyl records, cassettes or CD’s ruled the industry, but then along came the internet and everything changed.
A recent online article by Jason Hirschhorn outlined the significant changes in the music industry. A link to the full article is provided at the end of this post. Some of the highlights Jason mentions are: (Keep in mind that Napster started in 1999, ceased operations in 2001 and iTunes started in 2001)
- Since 1999, adjusting for inflation, revenues for recorded music declined 70%.
- Since 1999, live concert revenues are up close to 200%.
- In 2000, the top one hundred artists accounted for 90% of all concert revenues.
- Today, the top 100 artists account for just 44% of all concert revenues, showing greater depth in the live performance music industry.
If you think Amazon has been damaging to Christian retail stores, you might be right, but it was the loss of music sales that delivered one of the first body shots to the Christian retail segment about 15 years ago. Music accounted for a major piece of Christian retail sales. A second crippling hit was the movement of video from physical to digital media. Then, along came massive online sales of books and bookstores needed to rethink their entire business model. Some did not have the resources to do so and are now gone.
Nothing seems to be the same as before.
There are undeniable differences between music and books. Music requires a small commitment from its user whereas books require significant time commitment. Music can be “background” whereas books require full attention of the user. An average music listener will experience hundreds of songs in a year via all media, but an average book reader might read only a half-dozen books in a year.
But there are similarities between music artists and book authors that can be instructive.
Just as music artists now earn the majority of their income in live performances, authors must be engaging directly with readers as well in order to succeed.
Musicians are earning more money live-performing than recording. Not many years ago, concert tours fueled more album sales, now that is reversed and recorded music distributed through various methods create interest in live performances, where the real money is.
A low income activity fueling higher income activity.
For musicians in general (not just the top superstars), radio, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, YouTube videos, etc. all primarily generate interest needed for a successful live tour. Recorded music has become more about marketing than income.
For book authors, the same principle applies as non-income generating activity fuels income-generating activity. Social media and personal appearances/live interaction generate the interest in buying their book.
The necessity of having both elements working together is how music and books are similar. The common thread is if you are not “performing,” you make little or no money.
Not long ago, there was a category of studio musician, providing the extra instrumentation or background vocals needed to make a recording great. The revenue center of the universe was the recording.
Now, those people are still needed, but they also need to tour with the singer or group. They need to perform live. If you don’t enjoy performing in front of people, then you will have difficulty making a living as a musician. The out-of-sight studio musician or group (“studio band”) has become almost extinct.
In the same way, out-of-sight authors who wrote a book and slipped it under the door of their writing room to a waiting editor and publisher are growing extinct as well.
Authors need to be out in public performing. What has been called the author platform is really “authors performing in public.”
So how does an author perform? (other than writing a book)
Responding (to reader communications)
This is what you do in your unique and personalized author platform, the home base of activities, which allow you to connect in a personal way with a large (hopefully) group of people.
Author Platform: Non income-generating activity that fuels the income-generating activity.
Authoring in the 21st Century requires an added role of public performer. If you would rather not, then it is probably an indicator that you should use your writing ability to help others create their work because dancing authors are now a requirement.
To read the full article by Jason Hirschhorn on the music industry, click here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/less-money-mo-music-lots-problems-look-biz-jason-hirschhorn